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Keeping Dust Out of Non-Manufacturing
Spaces in Industrial Facilities

High efficiency dust collectors
are best known for maintaining
cleanliness in industrial
manufacturing spaces. But
offices, control rooms, server
rooms and similar spaces in
these facilities must also be
protected against dust infiltration.
Pressurization in combination
with cartridge-style industrial
dust collection is an effective
and sometimes overlooked
air-cleaning strategy.

By Pablo Rocasermeno
Regional Manager, Latin America
Camfil Air Pollution Control

This makes it possible to protect the space from dirty outdoor air conditions. protecting the individual from contaminants and pathogens which might otherwise enter. Blowers are controlled by VFDs and pressure sensors inside the room.Keeping Dust Out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities By Pablo Rocasermeno. High-efficiency HVAC filters are the most common solution. creating an air barrier between the outside and the inside. electrical rooms and server rooms in industrial facilities are especially prone to dust infiltration that can create unpleasant or even hazardous working conditions while causing problems with critical equipment. are used to pressurize electrical rooms at a copper mine. but cartridge-type industrial dust collectors can offer an effective and often overlooked alternative. labs. How pressurization works Pressurization is a well-known ventilation technique in which a positive or negative atmospheric pressure is maintained in an isolated or semi-isolated environment. But offices. Pressurization in combination with proper air filtration is the most effective approach to this challenge. which maintains a flow of air out of the room. from dust or fumes generated by an adjacent production process. or even from excess humidity that might seep in through walls or other openings. Conversely. which maintains a flow of air into the room to keep the infection from spreading to other patients and health care workers. Latin America Camfil Air Pollution Control High efficiency dust collectors are best known for maintaining cleanliness in industrial manufacturing spaces. The units have been operating for more than two years without a filter change. White Paper: Keeping Dust out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities 2 . It has been used by the health care industry for many years for infectious disease control. Regional Manager. a patient with a contagious disease will be housed in a negative pressure isolation room. Offices. In industrial settings. Multiple dust collectors. each containing six high efficiency filter cartridges. positive pressure (known as “inflating the building”) is similarly used to keep particulate or gaseous contaminants out of a room. server rooms and similar spaces in these facilities must also be protected against dust infiltration from nearby manufacturing processes or from particulate contaminants in the outdoor air. A patient with an immunodeficiency disorder will typically be housed in a positive pressure isolation room. especially electronics. control rooms. conference areas.

the cancer agency of the World Health Organization. However. or whom. as follows: • What. saving substantially on A cartridge dust collection pressurizing system is installed on the roof of a maintenance building in the harbor of a European coal power plant to prevent ambient coal dust from entering the building. Determining whether to pressurize How do you decide whether pressurization is a good choice for your facility? The decision can’t be based solely on the volume of dust to be controlled. Wall louvers allow for air exchange and are calibrated to maintain a specific pressure inside the facility. • What are the local climate conditions? Climate might also impact your cost analysis. the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). But if you are protecting expensive electrical equipment from damage or from creating a safety hazard due to contact with dust. Similarly. moisture-laden air from outside to pressurize a building. it will be worth investing a fraction the cost of that equipment in a pressurizing system that will ensure protection. negative pressure may be applied – sometimes in conjunction with containment systems – to prevent the dust generated in a manufacturing space from cross-contaminating other areas of the plant. or a mining facility where toxic minerals are being processed. because other factors must be considered. the additional air conditioning load could be cost-prohibitive. in a pharmaceutical facility where potent compounds are used.Conversely. you will want to keep the area clean to protect occupants and comply with OSHA regulations for exposure. The importance of this cannot be understated. pressurization may not be worth the expense. if you inject large amounts of warm. you can take advantage of the “free cooling” and use your pressurizing system for conditioning. A 16-cartridge dust collector pressurizes and ventilates a compressor room in a power generation plant. In the tropics. are you trying to protect? If the space is unoccupied and/or there is nothing much of value inside. The unit is installed in front of a ventilation system and uses a water and moisture eliminator filter at the intake to keep rain from entering the unit. Though it has long been known that dirty air is hazardous to the health. if workers in an office area are exposed to unhealthy levels of dust or fumes. White Paper: Keeping Dust out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities 3 . announced in 2013 that both air pollution and particulate matter (a major component of it) would now be classified among its Group 1 human carcinogens. in colder climates or during winter season.

A large 24-cartridge collector plays a critical role in pressurizing an MCC room at a U. and field experience shows that the payback is often much faster. protecting the electronic equipment from possible short circuits created by dust infiltration. Though as stated before. HVAC filters are not designed for the heavy dust loads generated by some manufacturing processes. compressor rooms. Pressurization is used in many industries. and server rooms. especially in very dusty conditions. Cartridge dust collector filters are designed specifically White Paper: Keeping Dust out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities 4 .S. and in these situations filter life can be limited to a few months or even a few weeks. Then you will have to engineer a solution that might not be cost-effective. To cite a hypothetical example: If an air handling unit is pressurizing a mechanical room and you want to replace it with a dust collector. quality control labs. metal and coal mining. which may contain ASHRAE-grade or HEPA filters capable of capturing very small particulate matter. • What is the anticipated return on investment (ROI)? ROI should typically be less than two years for pressurization to be cost-effective. iron mine. clean rooms. although possible. pharmaceutical processing. resulting in high maintenance and replacement costs. Deciding between HVAC filtration and dust collection A small cartridge collector is used to pressurize an electrical room. there might be a problem if the collector won’t fit in the room and/or the roof cannot take the weight of the equipment. Retrofitting of air handling units. can be more costly and complex depending on the set-up and location. grain processing. or often even a plant renovation.air conditioning costs required to keep servers and electrical equipment from overheating. in many cases the main justification is to guarantee a certain air quality in a space to protect something or someone valuable. and the dust collector is sized for 10 percent of the capacity of this unit. offices. an addition or expansion. electrical equipment and motor control center (MCC) rooms. In addition to the health benefits. including cement and lime production. or potentially anywhere that high volumes of dust are generated. Pressurizing with dust collection can be applied whether it is a new plant. a clean work environment will also enhance morale and boost productivity. Located in a warm climate. Pressurizing with industrial cartridge-style dust collectors offers an excellent alternative to air handlers. However. the room has its own backpack-type A/C unit for cooling. substations. As noted. Areas that are most commonly protected using this technique include control rooms. the non-manufacturing sections of industrial plants will often be pressurized using HVAC air handlers.

among other things. to prevent outside odors from entering an occupied pressurized space. etc. however. If you are dealing with pharmaceutical-grade or some food-grade applications. cartridge filters only need infrequent change-out in pressurizing applications. Dust collectors in these applications will be located outdoors. equipment downtime. Carbon after-filters are another option for use when odor control is desired – for example. so when used in a pressurization system. While MERV and other efficiency measures are useful for comparing different filters. In certain cases. and it considers only the initial efficiency of the filter. Based on expected changeout frequency. Which is best for your application. also known as safety monitoring filters. Cartridge collectors also operate at lower pressure drop. disposal. HEPA filters will be required to comply with regulations of a specific industry. Typically. thus improving the energy performance of the system. Don’t rely solely on MERV values in choosing a filter media. The MERV scale was developed for the HVAC filter market and is not accurate for dust collectors because. For critical applications. inventory. HEPA or after-filters. an outer layer of extra filtration fibers will ensure the maximum efficiency of the media from day one. so they must be equipped with weather-resistant components and controls. Dust collection equipment guidelines Cartridge style dust collectors are the system of choice because they deliver much higher filtration efficiencies than baghouses. A very high efficiency nano fiber filter media (MERV 15 or 16) is the best choice for pressurizing applications. you will need to compare: (a) the initial cost of the equipment/hardware and the filters. White Paper: Keeping Dust out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities 5 . a necessity when protecting workers or sensitive equipment from high levels of fine dust. but it is recommended that you replace filters every two to three years at longest. As noted. these highly regulated industries may place some restrictions on the types of filters or level of filtration needed to comply with industry handle high dust loads in industrial environments. may be installed in the ductwork downstream of the collector to provide backup protection in the unlikely event of an air leak through the dust collector filters. Ask the filter manufacturer to provide a written guarantee of emissions performance stated as grains per cubic foot of air or milligrams per cubic meter of air. HVAC filtration or dust collection? To find out. you can arrive at an annual cost estimate that takes into account not only the price of the replacement filters but also related labor costs. high efficiency cartridge filters can last for years before needing replacement. The main difference between the technologies is that a dust collector automatically pulse-cleans its filters using very brief bursts of compressed air that blow the dirt off the filter surfaces and down into a collection device. it does not take into account the whole dust collector but only the filter media. it is calculated at different flow rates. This technology increases the efficiency and allows maximum filtration with low pressure drop. (b) the cost of electrical energy required to operate the system. An older filter may develop a hole or leak after time and will no longer deliver the guaranteed efficiency. for more efficient performance. it is more important to verify that emissions will be at or below required threshold limit values. and (c) life expectancy of the filters under the anticipated dust loading conditions.

Heavy duty air handling components designed to withstand the dirty conditions are recommended. elevation. If the space does not have to be heated or cooled. however. White Paper: Keeping Dust out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities 6 . see table 7-1 of the ACGIH “Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice”. The two devices will work together to monitor and control pressure. a wet scrubber system will be needed to remove these contaminants.000+ ft. If the space to be pressurized requires heating or cooling. non-air conditioned spaces A final consideration in pressurizing is whether or not the space to be pressurized is air conditioned. this 48-cartridge dust collector pressurizes and conditions the control room of a gold and silver mine. raised floors and other construction details may also impact the calculations.Working at a 15. If you are pressurizing to protect a space from gaseous contaminants. A variable frequency drive (VFD) ensures precise control of dust collector fan speed. efficiently maintaining the desired airflow through the collector. dust collector airflow should average between 10 – 20 percent of the HVAC unit airflow at a given capacity. for particulate filtration. installed upstream of the wet scrubber. dust collector airflow calculations should be based on the ventilation requirement for indoor air quality + air leakage through cracks and openings (i. It is a must for pressurized applications. This approach assumes the HVAC system has been properly sized to account for infiltration and will ensure you do not overwork the HVAC system by injecting too much humidity. and should always be used in tandem with a pressure sensor in the room. For suggested velocities across openings and their corresponding pressures. you will still need a cartridge dust collector. If dust is present. False ceilings. Strategies for air conditioned vs.. using standard formulas for infiltration).e.

e-mail filterman@camfil. You should then add 5-10 percent more on top of that airflow to create pressurization. fume and mist collection equipment and is part of Camfil. Example: To treat an area with office workers using an extraction system mounted on top of a +/2”wg. above. (For more details see section 7. a good standard is to set a pressure differential of 0. a VFD and pressure sensor should again be used as controls.5 of the ACGIH industrial ventilation manual. So if the goal is to extract is a global manufacturer of dust. In most cases. For further information. # # # About the author: Pablo Rocasermeno is Camfil APC’s Regional Manager for Latin Camfil APC (www. the dust collector should be sized with 1.100 cfm capacity to make sure you are injecting more air than you are extracting. He is a mechanical engineer with expertise in ventilation and dust collection systems. the largest air filter manufacturer in the world. That is why it is important to use a pressure sensor inside the room to adjust the supply air using a VFD on the fan of the pressurizing unit. contact (800) 479-6801 or (870) 933-8048. which will determine the airflow. © Copyright 2014 Camfil APC White Paper: Keeping Dust out of Non-Manufacturing Spaces in Industrial Facilities 7 . And as noted. or visit www. you will need a certain number of air changes per hour. If there are any openings or other leak paths.000 cfm from the room.camfilapc. it’s a good idea to oversize the dust collector slightly or to calculate infiltration and add it to the formula.General ventilation guidelines for industrial applications recommend a difference of 5 percent between supply and exhaust airflow.) Uncontrolled pressure could create high velocity conditions that result in back drafts and slamming doors.